16 Social Media Guidelines For Libraries & Schools

Social Media: a good servant, but a bad master.

The challenge for libraries, schools and other places of learning is how to offer Social Media facilities to others while monitoring the networks to see that are not abused. Anyone who’s struggled with the dilemma of buying a laptop for a teenager and then wondered, ‘should I check what they’re reading… or should I trust them?’ I know I can trust them but can I trust their friends.

Social Media Policies For Libraries

Jean Hing Fay and Kathryn Greenhill, who job shared at the Grove Library, did a lot of reading of social media policies and came up with one for their library. They based it on on the Intel social media policy and a very useful list at the High Tech Dad blog, Crafting your company’s social media policy . They also included the section on moderation as they wanted staff to be able to show the guidelines if anyone wanted to know why particularly material was on any of the library’s online sites. They also released it under Creative Commons so others can use this as a starting point.

Social Media Guidelines for Library Staff

These are guidelines for use of social media by Library staff.

“Social Media.” includes community created content sites like Blogs, Forums, Flickr, YouTube, Wikis, Social Networks, Twitter and other content sharing sites. It includes:

  • material created by you on sites hosted and created by the library
  • material created on other social media sites when  acting as a library employee.

When you use social media your behaviour  and content is not only a reflection of you but also of (our) Library. This policy complements, rather than overrides, any existing requirements that you act professionally, respectfully and honestly.

If you don’t know how you should act or communicate within Social Media, ask someone who does.

If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit ‘send.’ Take a minute to review these guidelines and try to figure out what’s bothering you, then fix it. If you’re still unsure, discuss it with your manager.

Social Media Do’s

  1. Be Professional – Talk the way you would talk to real people in professional situations.
  2. Be Courteous – Be sure to listen & ask questions.
  3. Be Accurate – Check your facts before you post and provide supporting sources if necessary.
  4. Be Useful – Add content because you have something interesting to say, not for the sake of regular posting.
  5. Be Intelligent – Provide some value. Don’t talk down. Offer insight.
  6. Be Conversational –  Avoid overly pedantic or “composed” language. Don’t be afraid to bring in your own personality.
  7. Be Non-confrontational – If you disagree, do so respectfully
  8. Be Prompt – If you need to moderate or respond to a comment do so as quickly as possible
  9. Be Identifiable – Use your real name and do not post anonymously.
  10. Be Transparent – Disclose that you work for the library if this is relevant and be honest & truthful.

Social Media Don’ts

  1. Don’t Share Secrets –If you aren’t sure you can disclose something, just don’t do it. Think about privacy, confidentiality and permission to use other people’s content.
  2. Don’t Bad Mouth – Keep the language clean & avoid slamming people or companies.
  3. Don’t Complain – If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  4. Don’t do Stupid Things – If it doesn’t help the Library or our community, don’t do it.
  5. Don’t Defame – Show everyone respect.
  6. Don’t Forget your day job –Social Media can consume you so don’t forget your other duties. Moderate, balanced use is essential.

Responsible moderation

Moderation is the act of reviewing and approving content from others. Our aim is to promote community conversation, so we will only remove content that is:

  • abusive
  • off-topic
  • contains personal and/or cultural attacks or insults
  • promotes hate of any kind
  • offensive in nature or contains offensive language
  • spam
  • potentially libelous
  • contains plagiarised material
  • contains commercial content
  • detrimental in any way

Source: http://librariansmatter.com/blog/2010/09/10/a-social-media-policy-for-a-one-branch-public-library/


These guidelines raise some interesting points. For instance, at what point do those who work in libraries, schools, and other public places step in and remind others of their Social Media policies?

How do you make others aware of this?
How do you ensure that the public adhere to these policies?
What steps do you take when people break these rules?

Writing the Social Media guidelines is the first step. Monitoring may be the second. The third is more complex. How do you implement these, especially when your ‘customers’ include children, teenagers, parents, and pensioners?

And you thought working in a library was easy?